Transitioning to low carbon gas is important if we want to reduce New Zealand’s carbon emissions - and hydrogen has a big part to play.
The proven potential of hydrogen
A cleaner alternative to natural gas, hydrogen is produced through electrolysis; where water is split into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity. As long as this electricity is renewable (generated by things like wind and solar), the process creates no new carbon emissions.
Hydrogen can either be burned as a direct, low carbon replacement for natural gas, or used in a fuel cell to produce electricity. It produces no CO2 when burned. It can be produced at scale, and our current studies show that much of the Firstgas network is likely to be able to transport hydrogen.
You don't need to replace your current appliances to get the benefits of hydrogen.
Current research shows that a blend of up to 20% hydrogen (by volume) could be mixed with natural gas and burned in most existing gas boilers, hobs and hot water heaters. So, for most gas customers, there will be no need to change appliances yet – gas will simply get cleaner behind the scenes. Beyond a 20% blend, appliances would need to start changing, but this would happen in the same way it did when Aotearoa moved from ‘town gas’ 11(coal gas) to natural gas in the 1970s. Hydrogen-ready appliances are being brought to market globally and will be available on the New Zealand market in time for the changeover.
Hydrogen trials are already well advanced internationally. A huge amount of research is underway in the UK12 and Australia13 and some networks are already trialing blends of up to 20% hydrogen to successfully reduce their emissions14. Hydrogen boilers are also in the advanced stages of development and testing, as well as ‘hydrogen ready’ boilers – which can easily be switched over by a technician when networks convert to hydrogen15.
Firstgas Group is keeping a close eye on programmes overseas to prove that a reliable, safe hydrogen gas network is also possible in Aotearoa.
To find out about developments globally, take a look at these website links to research and knowledge hubs in Australia, America and Europe:
The Hydrogen Pipeline Trial Study has set a solid foundation for Firstgas’ future work on hydrogen. Not only does it provide a concrete platform for our testing and development programme, but helps us paint the picture of a low carbon gas future for potential hydrogen producers and users.
Over the coming years, we’ll continue to build up our experience of introducing hydrogen to our networks – starting with work on a live network trial of a hydrogen-blend during 2022.
Allowing the injection of hydrogen into our network may also require changes to our regulations, so we’ll work closely with government and policy makers to achieve this.
In the meantime, gas users can continue doing what they’re doing, while we transition to cleaner gas in the background. Our goal? Making a low carbon gas grid a future reality in Aotearoa.
Gas is getting even better
ALREADY A USER OF GAS SERVICES?
We’re continuing to work in the background to transition to cleaner gas. Our goal? To make a low carbon gas network a future reality in Aotearoa.
For Firstgas Group, the Hydrogen Pipeline Trial Study set the foundation for our ongoing delivery work on hydrogen. The results show we have sufficient network capacity and a viable strategy for converting our pipeline networks to a 20% hydrogen blend from 2030 and moving to 100% hydrogen by 2050.